Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Testing in Children in a Large Regional US Health System During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic
Pediatr. infect. dis. j
BACKGROUND: The objective was to evaluate patterns of pediatric coronavirus disease 2019 testing in a large health system throughout the pandemic, before and after school reopening. METHODS: This was a cross-sectional time-series study of clinical virology results from children tested for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 in Southern Connecticut and areas of New York and Rhode Island. Data collected include demographics, hospital admission, changes in percent positive tests over time, detection intervals in persistently positive children and cycle threshold values. The setting was the Yale New Haven Health System has 6 hospitals at 4 Connecticut locations, 1 hospital in Rhode Island and ambulatory locations in Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York. Participants included twenty-three-thousand one-hundred thirty-seven children ≤ 18 years of age, tested for coronavirus disease 2019 at an ambulatory testing site, the emergency department or on an inpatient unit within the Yale New Haven Health System. RESULTS: Among all tests, 3.2% were positive. Older children consistently made up the larger portion of positive pediatric cases, regardless of community prevalence. Increased pediatric cases later in the pandemic when prevalence in adults was relatively low correlates with a higher number of tests performed in children and not with an increased positivity rate. No significant changes in trends of positivity were detected after the reopening of schools. Symptomatic and asymptomatic children had similar cycle threshold values regardless of age, and a subset of children demonstrated persistent viral detection, some for as long as 6 weeks. CONCLUSION: An increase in pediatric cases documented in the late summer was predominately due to increased access to testing for children. The percent positivity in children did not change in the first 3 weeks after school opened. A subset of children has detectable severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 RNA in the upper respiratory tract for weeks after the initial infection.